FAIR: Businesses employ people. Leaders enhance their employability

FAIR: Businesses employ people. Leaders enhance their employability

XYZ Enterprises Ltd is a now a shining new giant. Created through the merger of X Ltd, Y Inc and Z Pvt Ltd, it now has a new team of CXOs.

As part of the restructuring, following the mega merger, the new C Level in XYZ Ltd is looking for a fresh bunch of potential people leaders in the Sales Function. When the sales teams of X, Y & Z came together, the total head count of 300 front line sales people was right sized to 240.

At the Manager level, a total of 32 is now rationalized to 24. The talent search panel has its task cut out. It should pick 3 top high potential sales vertical leaders who will report to the new Head of Sales.

The traditional 9 box grids and the succession planning charts were presented. But XYZ’s CEO Ram wasn’t comfortable. “ I feel like I’m missing something here” he said to his new HR Head, Smitha. “Let’s take a break and reconvene in 10 minutes. There are things I want to ponder over”

In her glass paneled cabin, Smitha poured herself a coffee. Her phone buzzed. It was Ram. Energetic and curious, as always, Ram had a question. “We now have 24 people leaders in the Sales Org. Right?” .

“Yes", said Smitha.

“Can you quickly present a foil on what has been the impact of this restructuring on the people who reported to these 24 leaders?” asked Ram. “What I mean is, for each of these 24, how many of their direct reports are we retaining now? An excel sheet will do. Even a raw SAP output would be good enough. No names required. I will conference you all in 10 minutes.”

Back in the virtual meeting after 10 minutes, Smitha’s screen had the details Ram wanted.

“Yes, are we all back?” said Ram, “Smitha, can we see your screen?”

“Yes, gentlemen, here is another dimension to knowing our current sales people leaders better… Of the 24 salespeople leaders we have now, there are 6 from whose teams we had to let go 50% people. We have 16 from whose teams 20% people exited. And we have 2 whose teams we retained fully”

“What does this tell you, Smitha and others on this panel?” asked Ram.

"Looks like these two have managed to prepare their people well for the future.. am not sure of what I’m saying.. but, looks like it. May be Smitha can check my hypothesis with more data points. Can you, Smitha?”, said Head Finance, Piyush

“Just a sec”, said Smitha. She opened up the 360 Feedback Summary sheets of the two managers. The excerpts read:

Predominant theme: Fair to all stakeholders concerned.

Key Strengths: Candid in letting people know how employable they are. And supporting them to upskill constantly .

Popular takeaway: “My job is not to keep you just employed. I’m here to keep you employable”

There were more data points: (1) Training Budget utilization above 80% in a vertical that averaged 64% utilization. (2) 63% time spent on joint sales calls with people, against a vertical average of 36%. (3) NPS Score in their regions: 40% ahead of average. (4) Cost of Sales: 32% below national average.

“You are fantastic, Smitha” said Ram “You have all the data at a key-tap”

“One last data point, Ram.. Their Sales Target Achievements” said Smitha

“I don’t need to see that, Smitha", said Ram "They must be the best. Even if a shade lower, am okay with that. Still, let’s see what you have”

Smitha read from her shared screen: “Sales Target Achievement: 81% in Last 3 Years, against national average of 72%”.

“So, Gentlemen and Lady, looks like we’ve almost found two of our hi potential leaders for Sales. Would you all agree? ” said Ram

A series of “Yes” messages filled the chat window

“So, Smitha, now it is over to you’” said Ram “Let me know by tomorrow if we can firm this up. And also think of how to find the next HIPO we want. You can. Thanks”

Three way Fairness of Inspirational Sales Leaders

Inspirational sales leaders are legendary for their fairness. They operate in the sweet spot that is at the intersection of being fair to (1) What their Customers need (2) What their Business needs (3) What their People need. They constantly expand this intersection space to create continuous growth.

They know that the essence of being fair to Customers and business lies in the art of meeting every possible Customer expectation without compromising on business or bottom line considerations.

Fairness to their people

Inspirational leaders are intuitively aware that this approach to Customers and business can be made possible only through their people. So, such sales leaders continuously use fairness as an internal compass to check whether they are adding value to their own team members.

To them, being fair to their people includes things like improving their people’s capabilities and providing people, opportunities to fully use their strengths.

For example, if a salesperson has technical flair and enjoys selling to large clients, an inspirational sales leader will train him to sharpen his technical selling skills and use him for project selling.

Leaders who inspire also make conscious efforts to future proof their teams by enhancing their employability. They feel that this is the best way to be fair to people who work for them.

So, their people initiatives cover (1) More and better targeted trainings aimed at honing strengths (2) Joint calls with their team members, offering real time feedback to improve selling practices (In our story the 2 high potential sales leaders were seen practicing these) (3) More face time in terms of frequent coaching and 1:1 discussion sessions. Our story also demonstrated how the high potential sales leaders had future proofed their teams with their entire team being retained even in a restructuring.

Fair minded sales leaders ensure that their teams become better skilled and more employable for having worked with them. This way they build resilience that endures through good days and tough times!

Pause to reflect: “Fair minded sales leaders ensure that their teams become better skilled and more employable for having worked with them”

Action Question: If you were to consider hiring each one of your people afresh, today, will you or won’t you? What can you do to help them become more employable?

Related Readings: Mercuri In Essence document on What Drives Sales Force Effectiveness 

Takeaway Quote: “Being good is easy, what is difficult is being just.” - Victor Hugo

About the series:  This is the 61st in a series of 100 Posts that seek to build your #Sales Resilience.. as an individual salesperson, as a sales team, and as a sales organization. Because a Resilient India needs Resilient Sales.


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